Electonic Music Innovation – MiniMoog

      If you have ever listened to Progressive Rock, Electronic Music, or most bands with a synthesizer from the early 70’s to present day, then you might have heard a MiniMoog. The MiniMoog was invented 1971 in Trumansburg, New York. At R.A Moog, a man named Robert A. Moog was building Theremins, Guitar Amps, and huge synthesizers. He wanted to make a more portable synthesizer that could be brought on stage, but also wanted the huge sound that his over the top synthesizers brought to a record. He invented the MiniMoog, and since then, synthesizers have never sounded better. It was also one of the first synthesizers/keyboards that had a pitch wheel that could give a whacky bending sound to the notes being played.

     A few artists of the hundreds of artists that featured a MiniMoog in their group were Rush, Yes, Chick Corea, Kraftwerk, Bob Marley, and Gary Numan, Beegees, and Gary Numan. Rush’s more popular songs, Tom Sawyer and Xanadu, use the sound of the MiniMoog to get a cool Analog Lead sound. It is considered one of the most popular Synth sounds. The entire album Autobahn, by Kraftwerk, uses the MiniMoog in excess, and this is an album that had such a huge impact on the world of electronic music. Bob Marley first introduced the MiniMoog to Europe when he played with it on a BBC concert. Gary Numan, another very influential artist, started turning to the MiniMoog because he wanted to, “step away from organic instruments completely.” The fact that the MiniMoog could be used across all genres of music (due to the fact that it is a palate of morph-able, and unlimited sounds) is a huge step up in the music industry, specifically electronic music. The MiniMoog, like stated before, had a Pitch Wheel that could control a bend of the note being played (another first for synthesizers).

     I am a huge fan of Progressive Rock music, and seeing that two of my favorite bands (Yes and Rush) used the MiniMoog to get that iconic synth sound, it very much surprised me. I believe Robert A. Moog was not just an innovator, but he was a true genius because without his invention, I believe that most of the songs and artists made famous by it wouldn’t have had such a huge impact. 

Electronic Music – Kraftwerk

     If someone were to see the name Kraftwerk, you would think it was German. Well this is true because Kraftwerk is a German Electronic Music Group. The music of Kraftwerk spanned from futuristic/scientific sounding music to very Dance/80s era Pop music. Their musical works range from just instrumental to having heavy processed vocals with a synth heavy backdrop. The image of Kraftwerk was nothing like their music. You would think that a group of Sci-Fi astronauts with Flock of Seagull’s lead singers hair, but they are normal looking hipsters (before it became a thing).

     Kraftwerk’s more popular works from 1974-1981 include: Autobahn, Radio-Activity, Trans-Europe Express. Each of these albums had their own Conceptual Theme. Autobahn’s theme was about road travel, and was inspired by a very fast travelling road in Germany by the name of Autobahn. One track that peaks my interest is Kometenmelodie 2. This song has its moments where I feel like I am listening to a classic rock song turned into an electronic music song. It has that feel and it just has that sound with the chord voicing’s and rhythms. Trans-Europe Express was written based on the international railway service across Europe. The song Trans-Europa Express is my favorite off the album because it has a very cool beat and the different instruments fall on different accented beats which leads to a cool grooving sound. The “Trans Europa Express” vocals in the song are very haunting and heavily processed that it feels as if you are in a sci-fi movie going through space on a train. This album feels different than Autobahn because it is darker at points and seems to have more experimenting with different sounds. Finally, there is Radio-Activity. Radio-Activity is a very clever name for the album because the theme of the album is based on two things: radioactivity and activity on the radio. The title track Radio-Activity is the one song that stood out to me on the album because of the sounds and the panning of the drums. The panning of the drums gave you this dizzying and trippy vibe. This song I felt could have described the 80s migration to the unique and not yet fully explored world of electronic music. I felt that this album out of the other two had the best songwriting and arranging because there’s much creativity with the “studio as an instrument” technique (panning, time-based effects, etc.) and the instrumentation of each song. Each song had its own unique sounds but they all just morphed together to have this similar sound, which gave the album its own specific sound.

     Kraftwerk indeed were an influence to the world because of their creativity and their bizarre sounds that swept people off their feet. Kraftwerk was very original with their sound because there were few to none that would do a completely synthesized record that sounded as if it were orchestrated. Their ability to take a bunch of dissimilar sounds and to bring them together to create a haunting texture is what Electronic Music/EDM is all about nowadays. They also were unique because of their concepts. They did concepts on things that you wouldn’t necessarily relate to music with. They also used this concept and wrote not just the lyrics around the idea, but also the music. It immersed you into the theme and you felt as if you were on the Autobahn, or riding the Trans-Europe Express.

     I am not a fan of electronic music, nor am I in any way a fan of Kraftwerk. That is just my aesthetic view on Kraftwerk, but I can fully appreciate and understand how important they are in the influence they had towards electronic music and the kind of sound they were going for. The reason why I appreciate Kraftwerk is also because unlike present day Electronic Artists, Kraftwerk was, and is, the most original.